Far away from the world’s eyes, the Xinjiang Tigers have existed in Chinese sport as a monolith for how one should absolutely not run a professional team. Fickle, slick and shameless; if there is talent for sale, the Tigers are picking up the phone and asking how much. Now Andray Blatche has even chosen Xinjiang over the NBA. Those numbers again, folks; three years, $7.5 million and the chance to be the most prominent athlete for a thousand mile in any direction.
It’s that time of year again, folks. The CBA play-offs are in full swing and with Shanxi involved in the mix, this can only mean one thing; absolutely massive brawls. Now longtime readers of this blog will know that the Dragons are the closest thing China has to the Oakland Raiders. Indeed, the last time they were in the play-offs, their fans rioted at least once and during one road game at Shanghai, a Shanxi assistant coach in his fifties heckled the entire Sharks arena and beckoned for particularly irate fans to climb over the railings and do something about it. But this time around, Shanxi may have painted their masterpiece. You’ve got brawling with players, fans coming down from the stands and a second mob of pissed off supporters waiting outside. There really is something for everyone in this encounter.
It was his only significant pass of the game but the fourth-quarter dish gave Hu Xuefeng 2,242 career assists and ownership of the league’s all-time record. The Jiangsu Dragons, who were missing Chris Singleton with what has since turned out to be an ACL tear, lost that game, 117-94 to Shandong but the significance of Hu’s achievement still can’t be overlooked.
It was absolutely a special moment but even the circumstances behind Hu’s claiming of the record reflects how unorthodox the Jiangsu player has been over the years. The point guard, who has played for Dragons since 1999, is now also the team’s head coach and supposed to be running things from the bench. Instead, with the team badly weakened by injuries, Hu has played for most of the season and was able to come into Wednesday’s game within touching distance of the assist record he formerly owned but had since lost to Sichuan’s Lv Xiaoming.
The impression of Stephon Marbury in the West tends to be that he is universally popular in China. This is true to a certain extent in Beijing and the Ducks’ point guard has been well received for trying to live like a local in the capital city. Using the metro to get around the city or attending Beijing Guoan games might be seen by some as a PR exercise but they still represent a man who is trying to be part of his local community. Washington DC native Kevin Durant has no natural links to Oklahoma City but still goes out of his way to seem invested in OKC. Pretending to care is part of life as a top level pro athlete and the simple fact that Marbury is doing that in Beijing adds legitimacy to the Ducks and the CBA as a whole.
Having made it clear he loves Beijing, the city has quickly embraced the American as one of its’ own. Marbury obviously has been feted with that statue and that cheesy musical but he has also been asked to coach at the Rising Star game at a CBA All-Star weekend, which underlines his credibility within the league’s front office itself. But just because Beijing loves him, it doesn’t mean that the rest of China feels the same way. Continue reading
Well that was quick.
So with seven games of the season played, the Shanghai Sharks announced that they have cut Delonte West due to various injury issues. The former Fujian player, who had averaged 26.2 points, 5.6 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 2.4 steals in 2013, had struggled since moving to the Yuanshen. In five appearances, he was going for a disappointing 10 points and 1.2 assists a game before the axe fell yesterday. The Sharks, who are at 1-6 for the season and very much a team in rebuild mode, probably won’t care too much given that it will mean more minutes for twenty-four year old Ge Yang to develop.
Another round of games, another week of story lines. This time around its the struggles of a CBA legend, one of China’s oldest teams in turmoil, another mishandling a young star and China’s next great big man™ is emerging on the horizon in Xinjiang.
In his first game for UC Riverside (go Highlanders, etc) last week, Chris Tang, a Chinese point guard born in Nantong, would play five minutes, pick up a foul and an assists and that was pretty much it. For a player that was once being dubbed the mainland’s Jeremy Lin, this was not a great look. For Chinese basketball as a whole however, given a little of time, this might just work out.
Indeed, the very fact that another Chinese-born is now playing in high(ish) level college basketball in America can only be a good thing. The CBA- for all the chest puffing it has been exhibiting in recent weeks due to the ‘CBA20′ celebrations to commemorate the league’s twentieth anniversary- is still in desperate need of fresh ideas. Wang Zhelin is obviously seen as the next great Chinese NBA player but given the size of the country’s basketball playing population, the harsh reality is that the Fujian big man should not be China’s only viable candidate for the big time.
With the first week of the CBA in the books, its time to go over this first batch of games and extract the story lines and key issues that have emerged. A new scoring champion may well have announced himself in northern China, rebounding might suddenly be cool in the south-east and wherever a game is getting played in the CBA, the standard of defending is probably very, very bad.
With the CBA set to start on Sunday, November 1st, CBA teams are gearing up for another season of wall-to-wall basketball. Having dealt with the bottom half of the league last week, now its time to look at the teams who will be expected to compete for play-off sports and ultimately vie for the title itself.
With the Chinese Basketball Association starting on November 1st, basketball in the country is starting to slowly come back to life. By now teams have filled their rosters with free agents from both inside and outside of China and its now probably the best time to assess the quality of each of the twenty teams in the newly expanded league. This of course being China, fortunes can change very quickly for some organizations depending on the overseas players they brought in (or didn’t) and which local players managed to improve over the summer break. In the first of two segments, its time to look at the bottom half of the league based on the information that’s been available for much of the last couple of months. Continue reading